Back Pain

What is it and what are my treatment options?

About Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common orthopedic conditions, especially in athletes, active individuals, manual laborers, and the older population. Many cases of back pain will gradually go away on their own or improve after a short rest period. Back pain that lingers on or is severe should be seen by a Sano Orthopedic Spine Specialist. An accurate diagnosis and a customized treatment plan can be prescribed to help relieve symptoms as soon as possible.

Understanding the symptoms and causes of back pain can help you understand if and when it is time to make an appointment with a Sano Orthopedic Spine Specialist.

Back Pain Symptoms

Symptoms of back pain include:

  • An aching, shooting, or stabbing pain
  • Pain that radiates down the leg (sciatica)
  • Pain that gets worse when bearing weight or performing physical activities that involve bending and lifting
  • Muscle spasms

Back pain often improves when lying down or sitting in a reclined position.

Causes of Back Pain

Common causes of back pain include:

  • Stretching or tearing of ligaments that connect spinal vertebrae.
  • Stretching or tearing of tendons that connect muscles to the spine.
  • Herniated disc. The inner part of an intervertebral disc pushes through the outer disc wall and pinches spinal nerve roots.
  • Wear and tear of spinal bone and cartilage.
  • The weakening of bone.
  • Spinal deformity. Abnormal spine alignment or curvature.

Factors that increase the risk of back pain include:

  • Overweight
  • Improper lifting
  • Lack of exercise
  • Jobs that require long periods of sitting and using a computer

Back pain is classified as acute when it lasts for no more than six weeks. Back pain is classified as chronic when it lasts more than three months.

Non-Surgical Back Pain Treatments

The Sano Orthopedic Spine Specialists treat most cases of back pain with nonsurgical treatment options. Treatment plans are created based on your condition, lifestyle, and goals. Common treatment options include:

  • Activity modification. Slowing down or stopping activities that cause back pain.
  • Rest and ice. Taking some time off and icing the painful area.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Oral and topical medications that decrease pain and inflammation.
  • Injections. An anesthetic and steroid injection numbs the painful area and decreases inflammation.
  • Physical therapy. Back stretching and strengthening exercises.

Most patients respond well to nonsurgical treatment options and experience symptom relief and improved quality of life quickly.

dr donohue, pain management specialist physician

Surgical Treatments

Surgery may be recommended to treat back pain that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment options. Our team performs the following surgeries:

  • Posterior decompression +/- fusion. Small pieces of vertebral bone are removed to decompress a pinched nerve. In some cases, spinal fusion is performed to stabilize the spine. A plate and screws are used to join adjacent vertebrae. Bone graft is packed in the area to fuse with existing bone to form a single, solid vertebra.
  • Interbody fusion. The damaged or diseased intervertebral disc is removed and a cage packed with bone graft is placed in the space. A plate and screws are used to join the adjacent vertebrae. Over several weeks, the bone graft fuses with the healthy bone to form a solid vertebra that does not cause pain.

The distinguishing feature of interbody fusion is the approach. Sano Orthopedic Spine Surgeons perform:

  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). An incision is made on the back to access the spine.
  • Oblique lateral interbody fusion (OLIF). An incision is made on the side near the oblique muscles.
  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF). An incision is made on the front or side of the stomach.

With extensive training in these techniques, our patients can recover quickly. The team is trained in minimal access as well as open techniques. The approach is dependent on each patient.

Contact Us

Back pain can dramatically impact everyday life.  Whether intermittent or steady pain, we want to help you improve your quality of life.  Contact us to see if we can help.

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